The Body – PART 10:
Anatomy and Physiology
04 May 14
(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
My father spent the first half of his working life performing orthopedic surgery of the foot. I never had much interest in the buzz of his precision tools or the splatter of his operating room. I had nothing against the foot itself however, although it is lowly – and increasingly unsightly as it ages.
Our passage for this Sunday is about the foot… and the hand… and the eye… and the nose. It is about members – or organs – in the body of Christ, each one having a specific function, and each one necessary, even if they all aren't as beautiful as each other at first glance.
Many sources, both ancient and modern, deal with the idea of unity and diversity within a group, from Aristotle to the civic leaders of 20th Century America. Different skills all working together as a team is a common theme, of which our passage is a specific - and inspired - example.
The Apostle Paul writes that each Christian is part of the body of Christ – part of Christ Himself; we are part of His anatomy, His structure. Paul goes further and writes that we each have specific spiritual gifts and thus, we are part of His physiology, His functioning: gifts of prophecy, administration and teaching. “If we were all lovely eyes, what about the sense of smell?” asks Paul. “If we were all nimble hands, what about the hidden and calloused and essential feet?”, asks Paul (and my father). As a Christian, you are part of the structure and function, the anatomy and physiology, of the Lord Jesus Christ - a revolutionary idea.
(1) A REVOLUTIONARY IDEA:
Many times Scripture refers to men and women as having inherent value: we are made in the image of God; we are referred to as the sheep of his pasture, and as costly pearls and gems; and Jesus died to buy us back. Christians and non-Christians both struggle with actually internalizing this truth.
But it goes farther: not only are you of infinite value, you are of use to God. This has nothing to do with the Protestant work ethic or capitalism or needing to be busy and occupying one’s time. It’s quite the opposite. You don’t have to be busy or useful to prove your worth and value. That’s established already. The usefulness is to prove nothing. It, too, is God’s gift. He has decided to give you a function in His body.
Read 2 Timothy 2: 21 - The Greek word translated as “ready” or “fit” or “meet” (KJV) for the master’s use in this verse has a prefix that emphasizes just what a good fit, just how prepared and designed, an organ can be to do its function.
Read 1 Corinthians 12: 18 - The Greek work translated “according to his good pleasure,” means your function and use to the master is according to his design and pleasure and plan, and that He wouldn't have it any other way. To God, you are of infinite value, and also have a use that is custom-designed.
Question: What gets in the way of your really believing in your Godly value and usefulness?
(2) A SUBVERSIVE IDEA:
Read Matthew 6: 25-34, Luke 10: 41, Philippians 4: 6, 1 Peter 5: 6-7.
Every one of these verses or passages uses the same Greek word translated “care”, or sometimes, “worry”. Each one here is negated. After reading these, do you have any doubt that you are not to be concerned, not to give a care, not to worry about a whole lot of things? Clothes, property, money, even scheduling, RRSPs and taxes - this can be exceedingly hard to do, but is repeated over and over in the New Testament. In fact, there is only one time when this same Greek word is used without a negative, and we are actually told to care, to be concerned, with something.
Read 1 Corinthians 12: 24-26.
The one thing, as Christ-followers, we are to care about is…each other. We are explicitly told to care for the other organs in Christ’s anatomy. If one suffers, so should you; and even more difficult, possibly, if one is honoured, you, too, should rejoice.
Paul leads us to the last verse of our passage with this theme and perfect continuity: “And yet I will show you the most excellent way” (v. 31). And so he begins the famous lines of 1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am just a clanging gong or a tinkling cymbal.”
Question: What gets in the way of your obeying scripture’s admonitions about when not to care, and its commands to care?
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